Be sure to pick up your "pronoun preference" pin at the door

If you happen to be out and about near the University of Kansas this week, be sure to stop by the library. You’ll be able to pick up a free button which identifies your “preferred gender pronouns” at no cost and avoid any awkward conversational faux pas at your New Years Eve party. This handy dandy little item will let people know what gender you identify as, either on a regular basis or just for the day! (Associated Press)

University of Kansas students are being offered buttons through the school’s library system meant to make their preferred gender pronouns clear.

Various University of Kansas Libraries employees now sport the square-shaped pins, with extra ones also doled out to interested students, the Lawrence Journal-World reports.

Library leaders say the buttons are part of the library system’s “You Belong Here” marketing effort meant to lure undergraduates and ensure that they feel welcome, including transgender students.

The buttons come in three versions: “He him his,” ”She her hers” and, for people who don’t identify themselves as male or female, “They them theirs.”

I’m certainly not the expert in this area, but from all the research I’ve done over the past couple of years I must say that the buttons being offered in Kansas are far too limiting. He, she or they? That’s all you’ve got? These people need to head on out to the coasts once in a while. Other schools have left that three section choice in the dust and broken open brave new worlds of pronouns which are not only meaningless, but in many cases unpronounceable for the layman. Take, for example, the case of Champlain College in Vermont. You’ll need a pickup truck to tote around all of their pronouns. And they have buttons too! (Burlington Free Press)

Before the class of 2020 invaded Champlain College’s campus this year, staff members put their heads together to figure out new ways to accommodate students in the LGBT community.

One idea: Create buttons displaying the pronouns with which the students identify, said Danelle Berube, the college’s director of residential life. As first-year orientation began, and upper-class student leaders also returned to campus, hundreds of pins were handed out. Faculty and staff also grabbed pins that fit their preferences…

The pins display pronouns ranging from she/her and he/him to they/them and xe/xem. One type says, “Hello, my pronouns are fluid. Please ask me!”

Let’s pause for a moment and revisit that last button:

Hello, my pronouns are fluid. Please ask me!

I’m sorry, but… no. In fact, on second thought, I’m really not sorry at all. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that I agree with part of your initial claim about gender. Perhaps you’re a liberal arts major and didn’t take any classes in biology, to say nothing of genetics. You might never have heard of the 23rd chromosomal pair. Fair enough. So perhaps you think you’re a girl even though you have a Y chromosome. If that’s the case we might settle on “she” for the time being.

But… ask me? It’s not just that you want me to distort the English language by shoving “them” and “they” into sentences where they have no business. It’s not even the creative way you want to pretend that ze, hir and shem are all words. But now, having established that you don’t believe in science, you want me to check in with you each and every day to see what gender (if any) you are associating yourself with or risk being ostracized for disrespecting your rights?

I don’t think so. Sorry, buttercup. You are free to call yourself anything you like. You cannot, however, mandate my use of the language in response. I’ve got a different button for you, but you’re not going to care for it very much.